Instead of another eraser that you don’t need, wouldn’t it be good to be able to buy something fun and useful, like a book, when you’re next in the gift shop at some tourist attraction? I know, there are guide books. But they, too, get boring after a while. Wouldn’t it be so much more fun finding a work of fiction, set in the place you are visiting?
If you were to visit Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh, you could have your own little personal nightmare of time travel, right back to the plague four hundred years ago. Philip Caveney has written Crow Boy, which is now selling like hot cakes to plague tourists. And after reading it, I am not surprised.
It’s very exciting. You could probably avoid ending up in the the plague ridden 1600s if you don’t wander off into areas not open to the public. Unlike Tom, who did, and who saw more of the plague than he wanted to. He followed a ghost, and suddenly there he was, right in the middle of the olden days when people dropped dead, just like that.
Tom has recently – and very unwillingly – moved to Edinburgh, and he’s on a school trip to Mary King’s Close, until he suddenly appears not to be on a school trip any more. He’s part of the 17th century, plague and all. He meets the doctor he’s just been told about by the tour guide, and before he knows it, he is working for the doctor, making house calls to people with the plague.
Or is he? Maybe he’s just dreaming? He seems to be coming and going.
As I said, very exciting, and very educational. Perhaps the language is rather too modern. The historical characters speak and think as though they were 21st century people. But it’s time travel, and who am I to say they don’t sound more up-to-date under such circumstances? It would be more boring if they spoke all old-fashioned.
And isn’t it odd – not to mention inconvenient – how fictional characters always have a mobile phone with them? One which they have omitted feeding properly. But since it wouldn’t work anyway, it shouldn’t matter.
And, as I said, many more places should consider catching the interest of an author who might write an interesting souvenir for them. This beats most things I have ever bought from the many gift shops I have frequented in my time.
I suspect I’ll need to visit Mary King’s Close now. Or maybe not. What are the odds I’ll end up travelling in time? Getting close to a bubo or two…